Seattle Sounders FC continues to draw record crowds, signaling the growth of soccer in the United States, and more importantly, in the Puget Sound region.
The sport’s increased popularity led to creation of a local semi-professional league, the Evergreen Premiere League, which formed this year. The EPLWA, which is not affiliated with Major League Soccer, features eight teams from Tacoma to Spokane, one of which is the South Sound Shock FC. The Shock’s indoor team plays in Gig Harbor, and its EPLWA team plays in Tacoma.
The EPLWA is mainly made up of aspiring young players in college, and features some post-college players as well. Shock owner John Crouch said he’s pleased with the continue growth of the sport in the area.
“(It’s) definitely (growing),” Crouch said. “Especially with the Sounders putting 30, 40, even 60 or 70,000 fans in the stadium at once. It’s definitely doing well. It helps us out.”
Crouch served as the interim head coach for the Shock in Saturday’s match against West Sound FC, a club based out of Bremerton, as the Shock’s U-23 players were playing in a USASA national tournament in Philadelphia. The Shock cruised to a 3-0 victory, with two goals coming from former Major League Soccer player Joey Gjertsen.
“We just came out, showed some heart, worked really hard and took it to them,” Crouch said. “They had a really hard time in the first half with the midfield and the physical part of the game. We were really able to stretch them well with our forwards and the speed that we had on the front line, so the long ball was on, which stretched the field and opened the game up for us.”
The win propelled the Shock (6-0-1) back into first place in the league, while West Sound (2-6-1) dropped to sixth place.
Saturday’s game was played at Lincoln Bowl in Tacoma, a change of pace from the team’s usual home turf of Harry Lang Stadium in Lakewood. With ties to Gig Harbor with the indoor team, Crouch said they’ve considered playing a game in Gig Harbor, but it hasn’t happened yet.
“We’re sort of primarily on the (Tacoma) side of the bridge, usually,” Crouch said. “We’d be open to play wherever we can. We have tried to do camps and clinics out there (in Gig Harbor), and we’ll continue to work on that.”Jon Manley: 253-358-4151 firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @gateway_jon